Not that it's been smooth sailing in the first nine games, but the waters are about to get choppier.
The Giants have the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL with opponents claiming a combined winning percentage of .633. This number is largely due to a second half that features five games in the NFC East, which leads the league with a 26-11 record.
But before they play four consecutive divisional games, the Giants host the Detroit Lions, who have won their past two games over the Packers and Bears. Here are three keys to victory for the Giants on Sunday:
Limit the explosive plays
Coach Brian Daboll used the word "explosive" four times in his Wednesday media availability in reference to the Lions, who are one of three teams that have had three games with 35+ points in 2022 (Chiefs and Dolphins are the others). While Detroit's two losses in such games are tied for the most in a single season since at least 1940, that's where the focus begins for opposing defenses. Detroit ranks fourth with 42 plays of 20+ yards. Of those, 36 have been through the air, the third-most in the league.
"Look, they create explosive plays," Daboll said. "The other thing they're really good at is down in the red zone, finishing drives. It's a team effort every week of how you need to play a game. But they're an explosive team – no question about it. It kind of all works together with special teams, offense, defense. We're going to have to do a good job of trying to slow them down and make sure we're tackling and not giving up 50-yard runs that they break through, taking care of the deep part of the field and things like that on defense."
Although the Giants are middle of the pack with 37 plays of 20+ yards allowed, they still boast a Top-10 scoring defense because of their prowess in the red zone and on third down, where they rank second in both.
If it's not broke, don't fix it
The NFL is simple but not easy. The Giants have gone a long way this season by running the ball, limiting turnovers, and making plays in key situations. There's no reason to change things now.
According to NFL Research, this will be the sixth instance since 1960 that the league's leading rusher faces the team ranked last in both scoring and total defense entering the week. In such games, the leading rusher is 5-0 with 110.4 rush yards per game. The last one was Adrian Peterson vs. Detroit in Week 2, 2009 (92 rush yards). Of course, this time it's Saquon Barkley, who comes off a career-high 35 carries.
Protect Daniel Jones
Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, a former quarterback, likes to "take a peak" at the top defensive draft prospects during the draft process "just to kind of know the skillsets and what's out there." One of those players was Aidan Hutchinson. The second overall pick leads the Lions and all NFL rookies with 5.5 sacks this season. On the other side, the Giants have allowed the seventh-most sacks.
"Up front, they have some good pass rushers. Really, at all three levels – those guys do a really good job," Kafka said. "They got some skill in the back end that can cover. They're going to challenge you at the line of scrimmage. We've got to be prepared for a variety of things; pass rush, a variety of pressures, win our one-on-one battles on the perimeter. There's definitely a big-time test that we have to be prepared for and that's what we're going through throughout the week, practicing against those types of situations against those defenses and then going out and putting our best foot forward to go out and execute."
View rare photos from the all-time series between the New York Giants and Detroit Lions.